Dearly Beloveds.  It’s been a while.  Are you there?  I am here (what is Here, anyway?  It’s just There without a “T”).

It's Just There Without a T

This post marks the end of the longest lapse

this blog has suffered since I renamed it a year and a half ago.  Actually,  I don’t know that the blog literally suffered; it is, after all, only as sentient as a trifling aggregation of ones and ciphers  can be, strung invisibly together in the netherland betwixt Time and Space. And if you managed to make  sense of that last sentence…no, wait, if you even bothered to read all the way through that last sentence,  you must have really, really missed me.  I’ve missed you too.   But.  While I’ve missed you, dearly beloveds, I am still ok, it turns out.  Ok and present.   Call out the roll and I’ll pipe up:  “Here!”

You might ask where I’ve been?  And what  I’ve been up to?  If you were actually Here, in person (rather than There, anonymously online),  I would grab your hands and waltz you into my miniscule living room, plunk you down on my rapidly-becoming-shabby couch, grab us a couple of banana muffins, and tell you.  You would not be able to shut me up.    But (sadly) we aren’t  Here together; you’re reading this from a safe and austere distance.  I sit on my declining couch alone with my laptop.  At least fundamentally educated  about blog decorum  and prudence, I will edit.

(Thankfully I’m a woman and impossibilities lie well within my purview.  Plus, I know about bullets.  And synopsii.   Also I can make up words.)

Okay, I don’t know how to do bullets.  And I hate editing my own words.  But I can write lists.

Where I’ve Been

A) During my blog lapse, I studied (in their natural habitat) realtors .  Also home buyers.  Informed by experience and observation, my understanding of the realty world became profound, my opinions more pungent.  I would love to share; I have an awful lot to say.  But not now.  I ‘m editing, after all.

2) Also in the last three months, as winter waned and spring sprung, I sewed a bit.  Sometimes with a friend (thanks for the inspirational visit, Steph).  Most of my own projects were a bust, but one, a stretchy black velvet dress designed and sewn entirely by me, became necessarily metaphorical.  If only for  me.  A landmark in a bittersweet, uncertain era.   I call it my Madame X dress.   I wore it on Valentine’s Day.

madame xmadame X

3)  Now, it is spring, when my thoughts usually become consumed by things horticultural and floral, but I have no idea whether my garden is in sync with the rest of the greening world or not, because ….WE SOLD OUR HOUSE!!!  (you noticed the foreshadowing in A?).  The garden went with it.  It is no longer mine.  Some of it has already been covered by concrete…the new owners must have experienced some consternation at the former vintage style carriage path (where a narrow swath of grass lies neatly between two concrete tire paths).  And though I enthusiastically offered,  the new mistress of the property (we’re calling it The Lake House, now that it’s a figment of our imaginative past) hasn’t called yet for me to help prune her lavender, or dispel the mystery of her seedlings (are they weeds?  or baby penstomens, malvas, lavender, salvia….?).   I’m thinking she may never.  Perhaps that’s best…at least for me.  Lest I look back a little too longingly.  And turn to salt.

The Lakehouse in Lavender

D) Also (and this would be obvious and almost not worth mentioning except it was so Epic), WE MOVED.  Into a rented townhouse, presumably so we could build another house on a lot we bought with almost all the money we made on the Lakehouse sale.  Which land purchase also happened during the last three months.  The rental is tiny, roughly 1/3 the Lakehouse in size.  But cosy.

E)  I really, really dislike moving.  I would say hate, but hate is a bitter word,  so I won’t.  Lest it catch me and I wander into frostbitten tangents or tangled deeps.  But I will emphasize again how seriously and emphatically I don’t like moving.   It’s stressful.  Unnerving.  Packing, unpacking, new routines, the unknown, adapting and regrouping…. neighborhood friends too far away to see on a whim…the necessity of endless driving to get kids to school and lessons and other familiar territories.  Trying to muster up the courage to introduce them (and myself) into the unknown.

But.  For the sake of streamlined conversation, I’ll just address packing here.   Establishing hierarchies between the negligible, the necessary, and the apocalyptically priceless.  Getting lost in detail.  What to store?  What to take?  Why do we even have so much stuff?  The deceptively easy first few days of packing,  where I’m lulled into believing that it’s therapeutic, a perfect opportunity to de-junk.  Which innocuous beginning feeds into a never ending flood of unclassifiable but un-relinquishable detritus , where I’m forced to admit we’re all hoarders, each and every one of us.   Exhaustive and exhausting crazy making.  Triggering within my soul a manic fixation on monasteries, nunneries…asylums.  I envisioned living possession-less and naked in a quiet warm place who knows where.  New Guinea?  A Pacific Isle?  Or the Northwest.  Except I’d miss my children, who would probably be permanently scarred if they had to live with a naked me.   Frank might not mind, though he’d probably mourn the mystery that Madame X dresses lend.  But I digress.

5)  Frank has had four cold sores in less than eight weeks.  Cold sores, for him, are sure signs of deep stress.  The sort of stress he experiences when he loses a job.  Or proposes marriage.  Meanwhile, my fingernails have become even groovier.  Literally.  The ridges running vertically from cuticle to tip split out sometimes, like old barn wood.  This is also a sign of stress.  Or incurable disease.  Or both.


And yet (Miraculously), the kids seem content.  Ezra (who just learned that he will be attending a new high school next year, thanks to his parents’ choice to sell their comfortable lovely home and build another smaller one a few miles away) likes that we’re forced to breathe the same air  as we stack ourselves on the one couch that fits our rental, just three feet behind the kitchen table.  Which is generous of him, considering that we also shared a vicious strain of the flu these last few weeks.  He equates our close proximity to a more heightened emotional closeness…and I think he’s right.

Looking Forward, from Here to There

We sold The Lakehouse and moved into a tiny space so we could build another house with another name…one that would hold less detritus and cost less cold sores.  This was the reason for our madness, I keep reminding myself.  And we are on it.  Proof:

Z)  I’ve drawn up a house plan (something else I worked on during the lapse).  Simple, classic yet modern, smallish yet psychologically spacious.  Cross my fingers blow fairydust hold my breath beautiful.  I’ve given my dream child (with Frank’s input and careful computer plotting–no small doorways or tiny closets) to the engineers, who’ll make it legal and logical.   We get to preview the preliminary tomorrow.  And then we wait a few more weeks to begin, as we pursue permits, estimates, materials (lately, I’m fantasizing about a revamped antique range).  Hoping that we don’t use all our savings on gas  as we run kids to and from and to and from and to and from.  And, dearly beloveds,  I’m eager to tell you about it all…the bright future and the wanky present.

Farmhouse in Lavender

Realty’s Alternate Reality: Sanity Checklist

It’s Tomorrow.  I haven’t forgotten my promise to enthrall us all with sage strategies for staying sane in Realty’s Alternate Reality.

Wait—I don’t remember actually promising anything besides breath-takingness.   I’m thinking, at this late hour, that it would be easier to just post a really pretty picture of a mountain, and call it good.

But I won’t.  I actually have a list for prospective home sellers.  It is a Brace Yourself list…. “What to Expect When You’re Selling.”  Full of realism and pith, it could still take your breath away, especially if you hold it.  Which I do sometimes…breathlessness has its advantages, as Marilyn Monroe so fetchingly illustrates.

breathless monroe

Here’s my bracing list.  It isn’t comprehensive, by the way.  It just includes the elements that have been the most traumatic and scarring for me personally.

A) There Will Probably Be Strangers In Your Home.

They will not come bearing hostess gifts or potluck dishes.  These strangers (statistics bear this out) will be astonishingly more comfortable in your home if you aren’t present…as a matter of fact, most would prefer that you aren’t even on the same block while they open your closets and scrutinize your bathrooms.  Not even if you’re parked circumspectly a few houses down, pretending nonchalance.

2) Strangers May Have Opinions About Your Home. Like Your Appalling Lack of a Basement.

What?  I thought basements were a dark, dank liability.  But let’s not get too personal here.

A good strategy, by the way.  Not getting personal.  Any evidence of your unique personality in your home might be seen as an encumbrance…not just a figurative mote, but a veritable beam in a potential buyer’s vision of your home as their own.  (Note: You remember that if you’re selling your home, you need to be at least marginally ok with someone else making it their own?).  You should probably remove pictures of your children being silly and loveable or your grandparents kissing.

stealing sugar

Think of it as mote and beam renovation.  And while this may make you feel displaced and lonely, you STILL shouldn’t hang around your house during showings in hopes of catching a glimpse of the potential buyers (aka strangers)..  Go to the library, and remember your library card so you can actually check out books after languishing there for an hour and a half.  Pretend you don’t know strangers are opening closets and scrutinizing bathrooms in your home while you rummage desperately through your purse for the library card that ultimately, you did forget at home in your rush to evacuate.

C)  Strangers Will Open Closets and Scrutinize Bathrooms in Your Home.  In Case You Missed That Earlier.  I’m Not Even Kidding.

This is a scary thought, one that can lead to obsessive compulsiveness (and redundancy) in the seller.  Housekeeping tics involving bleach, vinegar, dental tools, and chimp-like sorting and picking.  Tics which  aren’t really necessary to the sale of a home (I’ve been told, and struggle fruitlessly to believe).  But here’s a comforting thought for all sellers:  Strangers probably won’t look in your dryer.  Most likely.  I’m hoping a study is published to confirm this soon.  Meanwhile, I have hidden all kinds of liabilities and eyesores in my dryer, stopping just short of concealing the snow shovel in it (a visiting friend advised against it).  I still think it might have fit.  It had a short handle.

cleaning the bathroom with vinegar

4) There Might Not Be Strangers In Your Home.

Which could be even worse than A, B, and C combined.  Because you don’t know until the day ends that no potential buyers will be showing up to scrutinize closets and bathrooms.  So you’ll still be going to insane lengths, trying to make your home irreproachably buyable.  Scrubbing shower doors with vinegar (to the consternation and disgust of your teenage son).

looking bemusedly skeptical

Picking and sorting lint and dust specks and small children like a chimp (we actually shaved our couch…no joke).  Making and re-making beds with hospital corners even though you have no idea what hospital corners are,  and forbidding beloved family and friends to eat, for fear of crumbs in the kitchen.

birthday cakecake crumbs in the kitchen

And the day ends; your family looks hollow-eyed, hen pecked, and hungry; your hands look like you’ve contracted leprosy, and no one—not even you—has enjoyed your beautiful, sparkling home that day.   You seriously wonder if house selling is soul selling in disguise.

E) A Stranger Might Offer to Buy Your Home

While this is what you’ve been working for, the reality of parting with your home (whether scoured and sparkling, or littered with relaxed crumbs) may be overwhelming, even sad.  After all.

Also, an offer is just a beginning to a whole new dimension of Realty’s Alternate Reality.  You’re not done yet.  Not even.

And I’m out of words again.  For now.  Stay tuned for thoughts on realtors.


Playing the Realty Game

realty reality

So if you’ve read along for just a little while here, or better yet,  if you’re a neighbor or local realtor, you’re probably at least liminally aware  that we’ve got a For Sale sign in our parking strip (turns out, that’s what it’s called, that odd little bit of land between the sidewalk and the street that confuses everyone from landscapers to skateboarders.  Lauren Springer Ogden aptly calls it a hell strip.  But I digress).  With simple Sherlockian deductions, you might easily conclude that we (the family that lives in the house whose yard bears the for sale sign) are selling our home.

Well, yeah! We’re trying, anyway.

Want to Play The Realty Game? (Or Should We Say…The Alternate Reality Game?)

This little reality, its shadow cast by the realty sign in our front hell strip, may seem inconsequential and benign.  We might even look like just another four bedroom two and a half bath statistic.  Harmless and boring.  But.  I beg to differ.  I feel morally compelled to differ.  Notice the wanky tilt of our realty sign.  It portends…something.  Implies tremors.  I assert that in entering the world of realty, we became players in a suburban Cautionary Tale.  Cautioning against what I’m not entirely sure.  But our realty escapade has been so Epic, I’m sure there’s Meaning in it.  A Moral at least.

midsummer night's dream dress

For this reason, I have decided to Raise A Warning Voice.  It doesn’t matter so much what I warn against…the important thing is just to, you know, Raise the Voice.  Right here on my blog.  Which blog is read fairly consistently by at least a half dozen people (including my mother….thank you, dearly beloveds).  And though none of us around here (barring, perhaps, Sara Urry) are Mavens, I feel certain somehow that my words, however I direct them, could have a powerful, rippling Effect.  I’m beginning to think Raising the Voice may be my Reason For Existence.

Go Ahead, Darling.  Sell.  But “Fasten Your Seat Belt; it’s Going To Be a Bumpy Night”.

(Bette Davis, “All About Eve”).  Just to be clear, my Warning Voice/Cautionary Tale is not raised against Selling Houses, nor even realty in general.  Not necessarily.  I still (after all) think selling houses might be an ok idea.  Indeed, if you think you’re up for a slapstick circus that will rival anything Tim Burton  could dream up, go ahead and put a for sale sign in front of your house.  In your hell strip.  With my blessings,  and with my respect.  But be cautioned.  If your hands tremble at the thought of earthquakes, black holes, nuclear meltdowns, riots, coups, croup, or hair in your soup, perhaps you should think twice about selling your home.

You need to be up for it, is what I’m saying.  Up for the realty game and its alternate realities. Up for the confidence quashing trek through staging, showing, feedback (!), offers, counter offers, contracts, addendums, inspections, appraisals, upheavals, withdrawals, more addendums.  Painter’s tape, sawdust, a lone dog hair drifting delicately at the bottom of a clean stove.  The barrage of realtors alone could make a nice woman crazy.  As shown by Meryl Streep (Aunt Josephine) in A Series of Unfortunate Events.  Jude Law narrates (as he should, always):

Fear of Realtors–Rational or Not?

Watch this video on YouTube.

Take a look in the glass, before you walk through it into Realty Land.  Make sure your rose colored specs have a tight grip and bifocal lenses.  Take stock of your id and your ego, and be absolutely certain your Freudian slip isn’t showing.  Be as tight a ship as you can manage.

Dolly in Wonderland

(Aside: If you’re a buyer,  HGTV’s programming offers contemporary coaching through your unique circumstances.  You will find all sorts of cautionary tales there, though most of them have suspiciously happy endings.  Also marriage counseling might be a good idea for buyers [it is absolutely necessary for sellers].  Sometimes counseling mitigates complications caused by the whole Adam’s Rib disconnect thing.  Venus vs. Mars.  But I digress again).

More Later, Dearly Beloveds…

I’m out of words.  Literally.  I’ve spent well over 500 of….yikes, 600! already, and am even now running the risk of losing your interest if I use more in this post.  I’m feeling a little shaky about risk taking at the moment.  So I’ll  continue with my Extraordinary Cautionary Tale tomorrow, new post.  Bracing for Realty’s Alternate Reality.  Or some other clever title.  But I promise (in my bloggerly way) it will be breath taking

dubious; cold & flu homely remedies

Regarding My Man

Another Tribute To My Man, In The Cold Dark Month of February…


Yesterday was my husband’s birthday.

He rolled out of bed while it was still dark, showered, put on a flannel shirt I’d ironed for him (a rare occasion, me ironing), ran kids to the bus, fried himself a quick couple of eggs, and drove to the train. Which he has learned to regard with strict respect; last month another commuter at Frank’s stop (deafened by earbuds and unfamiliar with the train’s routine) crossed the tracks a little late and was hit…or rather, battered and thrown by the train. But that’s another story, a sad one. Still it seems relevant. It nuances the fact that my man leaves for work in the dark. That he returns home in the dark after a day’s work. And that between the leaving and the returning, there’s the train…implacable and occasionally deadly. Endless tons of hurtling iron.

We choked on celebrating his birthday. It was the middle of the week; the kids had piano lessons and homework and church activities, and I was gripped by a gasping, wracking cough and a disgusting runny nose. I spent the day in my pj’s clutching Kleenexes (when I drove the kids places, I pretended no one could see me). No hot mama for my man to come home to on his natal day. And since Frank is eyeing carbs with antagonism lately, it would have been unkind to bake a cake for him even if I could manage it. We’re saving the cake experience for the weekend. Which I’ve moved up to tomorrow. Tomorrow I’ll dress up, the kids and I will sing, and we’ll go out. Tomorrow we’ll grill the lean-fatted calf and throw confetti.

Frank in a Tuke

We do this too often though…defer a celebration for the sake of convenience. I’ve promised and promised myself that one day, even if it’s a cold, dark, February Wednesday….one day, Frank will wake up to a sparkling Hoorah! Hooray! Hello! Happy Birthday! Affection typified by joyous party ephemera. What kind of ephemera I’m not sure of yet. I don’t think confetti would impress him. He doesn’t appreciate chaos. He’d smile at balloons, but then they’d probably get in his way and feel all awkward and unattractive at his feet.

Maybe I’ll jump out of a cake in something nefariously skimpy. I’m pretty sure Frank prefers my legs to balloons…unless my legs BECOME balloons because my wracking cough has turned into something archaic and awful like consumption and I’m bedridden for a year.

I See You...Frank in a White Shirt

Meanwhile, Happy Birthday Beau. I was going to make a dress to wow you in and tomorrow’s cake and also something amazing and carb-less for dinner, but I wrote this blog post for you instead.  I’ve loved you all your life, even though we’ve only known each other for a smidge over half of it (we can thank your parents for all those pictures and stories of your past, babe…including the baby oiled teenager posing for the body building competition in a Speedo). I’ll take it all, from the moment you came til long long after you’re gone.

Laugh out Loud

Bon Jour Y’all

Hello?  Hello?  Anyone Home?

hello there

My daughter (Maurya)  told me today that in the very near future, the inconstancy of bloggers will seem so constant as to become a cliche.  She is hoping to post on her own blog about it.  Sometime.  She’s not sure when.  But she’s not announcing this  publicly; she’s wise enough to  avoid the potentially ironic position of breaking a blogging promise herself.

I laughed, wryly.  Since I chronically lack the foresight and restraint that my daughter (less than half my age) so wisely practices.  With just  a little more than three hours left of this week, it looks like posting my promised house tour before week’s end is on the nether side of impossible.   What was I thinking?  I don’t even have time to ruminate before my deadline.  Or write my excuses (which is tempting, because  honestly, I documented them particularly well today,…from a perilously teetering cake  to a bow tie crisis, and beyond).

But I can at least show you the foyer.  And, while I’m at it, the living room (they are intimately connected, as Jane Austen would say… and yes,  I’m unabashedly reaching back to Jane for….uh…something.  Social proof?  Snob appeal turned on its ear?  I don’t have time to explore this.  Jane is just good company, let’s leave it at that.)

Bon Jour, Y’all

Bon Jour Y'all Foyer

Somewhere (maybe on Oprah?) once upon a time, I caught glimpses of a breathtakingly beautiful home, decorated and lived in by a lovely woman whose wondrous Southern accent fascinated me.  I think her home was in New Orleans.  Beyond the fact that it was all beautiful and  very classy, I don’t remember details anymore.  But I do remember a notion.  I remember that the woman wanted her entry hall to say (metaphorically of course), “Bon Jour, Y’all” .  I loved that.   The concept of welcome in design. And I decided I wanted my welcome to be warm, inclusive, beautiful, gracious. I wanted loveliness without pretention.  This concept was on my mind when I designed our current home… particularly the foyer.  Which is where we welcome people to our home, or where we find welcome ourselves. I feel outlandishly lucky.

As I think about designing a smaller home with a more conservative budget, I am totally comfortable with the idea of a much more diminutive entry.  I believe I can relinquish quite a bit of space without compromising the  sense of arrival and welcome.  I’m intrigued by the challenge.

Yo, Darlings.  It’s Gonna Be a Bright, Bright Sunshiny Day

DSC_9343round windowshoes in the foyer

Of all design elements, I think light may be the most important to me.  If I had to choose.  Which I rather wouldn’t, because really, I want it all, at least snippets of it—Light, space, form, function.  Anyway.  Light.   A light, airy  place feels both welcoming and beautiful to me.  Particularly if it’s natural light.   Which means windows.

In the foyer, I tried to make the doors as window-like as I could.   Transoms over the doors, privacy glass in the doors, and especially (the icing on the cake and one of my favorite parts of the house) the round window way up high.  The living room’s shares sunlight from tall south and east windows with the foyer. Light reflects off of white trim (inexpensive mdf,, painted by yours truly) and a solid oak floor (not trendy when we bought it; therefore, less expensive. But it has the classic vibe I wanted.  We installed it ourselves, saving even more).

It’s Got Soul, Babe

I decorate with my own art and found/rescued treasures partly because I can afford it, and partly because I crave meaningfulness. Homemade, passed down, rescued stuff has a history, a past. It offers connection, a sense of inclusion in something larger than myself.  And I love the stories (the fire bitten second hand baby grand deserves an entire post of its own). I paint things I love, often wistfully. Paintings are displayed in frames I’ve either thrifted and refurbished, or Frank has built for me. We (the girls and I) covered pots and jars in a mosaic of broken dishes (this is how I comfort myself when something pretty breaks…use bits of it in mosaics) and agates and seashells that our family collected at the Oregon coast, our favorite vacation spot. The pew is a splurge Frank bought on a whim to surprise me when the kids were little and owning it seemed as far fetched and luxurious as an exotic vacation. We rescued the old desk during those same happy, lean years, refinishing it together.  When it was set in place, we sat on the floor in front of it and just looked at it.  How pretty it was.   How the wood seemed to glow.  The sewing machine cabinet was my Grandma’s. She and I actually sewed a dress together with it; a dress I never finished, pinning it shut in the back until my mother kidnapped it and threw it away.


decorate with local artdecor: let there be lightliving room decorvintage sewing cabinet closeuppew used in home decor, detail

Welcome home, dearly beloveds.

Winter Painting: Have You Ever?

"Have You Ever" art

Painting Winter: “Have You Ever?”

I casually  (vaguely?)  mentioned this painting a couple-three months ago.   And let it drop.    The subject slumbered silently (probably forgotten (by everyone but me).  I wasn’t feigning indifference.  I wasn’t hoping my mysterious nonchalance might pique interest (truly; I’m always at a loss as to what to do when piqued interest actually materializes…). No, no.  No, my enigmatic tone was a cover for sheer frustration; I’d neglected to take a good picture of the painting before I sent it off to my friend Elaine’s boutique. I had no actual proof of the painting to post on my blog.

I have decent pictures now, having remembered to take a good camera with me on my most recent visit to the boutique (I also took my dear friend Stephanie with me, but that story will have to wait for another post, and so will a better picture of Elaine, who eludes a good shot like a phantom myth…let’s just call her “Nessie”).

at the gillded branch, the mysterious Elaine
(Elaine, Holladay’s Loveliest Urban Legend)
The Gilded Branch, with a friend
Steph, Perusing with Amazing Hair

Let me tell you about the painting, dearly beloveds.

Have You Ever heard Brandi Carlisle’s “Have You Ever”? If I could make my painting sing it, I would.  This song was on my mind as I painted, late last winter. Expressing in notes and lyrics  my own experience, how euphoric and revelatory aloneness can be sometimes.

"Have You Ever" detail, bird

However. Though I love the song, the painting was at first a disappointment to me. Not euphoric at all. I liked the texture of the ground I was experimenting with (tissue paper wrinkled and glued onto board with gesso, painted over with oil)…but. Thinking back, I cannot quite articulate what I didn’t like about the painting… it probably had something to do with my fear that it wasn’t “real” art (I keep doing that). Unable to throw it out entirely, I turned it to the wall (this actually happens a lot). Eventually I primed the back of the painting and even sketched on it with charcoal, intending to conduct another experiment on the back. But I was thinking about the front painting again, feeling wistful, kind of liking it. I invited it to audition itself one last time, letting it sing silently (face outward) in my studio. Intrigued by the possibilities that a slightly altered composition promised, I cropped it, put it in a refurbished thrifted frame, and fell in love. I don’t know if that’s wise. A fellow artist once warned me about letting a painting become precious to me. I get that. I’ll work on being more detached with future paintings. I think.

painting of a girl and a bird
at The Gilded Branch

PS: Radical subject change: I’m finally ready to share pictures of our home here, this week. We’ve taken many; I’ll pick through and find the best (of course). Maybe one or two of the worst (like Ezra’s chewing gum stuck to Meisha’s bed post?). At any rate, I’ll share. Soon. This week.

Breaking the Bench

Raising the Bar, Breaking the Bench


considered on a bench in winter

Breaking the Bench?  What?

I’ve been thinking about blogging lately. Thinking, but not doing.

Aside:  Blogging is a very modern word….and honestly, it sounds weird.  Nonsensical, Dr. Seuss-ish (or Dr. Who-ish) .  I wonder about its longevity, wonder if it might be even more transient  than “caboose”.  My children didn’t know “caboose” til we explained it to them, and as we did, I watched their eyes become distant and uncomprehending, and I felt myself once again regarded as a relic for knowing the word.  These same children, a few years younger, were actually surprised that peanut butter existed before I did, and once, one of my very young ones innocently asked me that great childhood cliche’:  Were dinosaurs alive when I was little?  Well of course, I told her. They still are, even now.  Behold the Rooster, aka Tyrannosaurus UnRex.  And  he likes peanut butter too.

Anyway, thinking about blogging, and how recently I haven’t, and feeling sort of distressed by that, but coming up totally blank when I considered actually writing something,  I reviewed my reasons for blogging (how New Yearly of me).  My ambitions and fantasies, and how they were still just that…ambitions and fantasies.  The realities of blogging have surprised me, often in pleasant ways…but in the end, as I reflected, I realized that I was no closer…not at all…to obtaining my more glamorous blogging dreams this year than I was last year.  Perhaps I’d even lost ground.  And thinking of anything to write seemed impossible, though I had promised to share much in the recent past.

can we both sit here?

Such as a story about (and photos of!) a painting that isn’t yet in my website gallery, but is instead hanging in my friend’s boutique, with a handful of other paintings (also mine) which aren’t selling either.  While in every other respect, my friend’s boutique is a smashing hit.

Such as a running commentary on the adventures of getting a house ready for sale.  There wasn’t much to say, and so far, I haven’t had the time to say it.  Our house is five years new, built under our supervision and sometimes even by us. No need for renovation. We didn’t knock down walls or reinvent kitchen design. I just painted.  And painted.  And painted.  And then I dejunked, and cleaned (am still cleaning…endlessly cleaning).   My hands got chapped.  I noticed  more wrinkles on my face and less hair on my head.  And after all that, we’ve only shown the house once so far.  In between snow storms.  To people who said, Lovely home, but we’d rather the great room was greater. Well, at least the fireplace smokes mostly up the chimney.

Such as….well, I can’t specifically remember other promises I made publicly here, though I’m haunted by the promises I privately made to myself.

can I sit here?together on a bench

Good news, though…the musing led to a little epiphany.  I realized that I can relinquish the fantasies and ambitions. Or maybe…alter them without guilt.   Instead of being driven by the fatuous daydream that somehow—miraculously—my sporadic art/design/writing/random green smoothie recipe will be “discovered” and deemed incalculably valuable by the masses (or at least Oprah? this, by the way, is why I used to sing in the shower…I superstitiously believed in impossible discoveries), instead, I can be motivated—no,  empowered—by my more intrinsic delight in creating.  Whatever.  Houses, clothes, paintings, words.

an acorn?  No...a kisswinter kiss on a bench

I hope I remember this.  To disregard the  seductive shower siren’s song and listen instead to Truth Inherent’s resonating chords. I would write that on a 3X5 and put it on my mirror, but I’m paring down on clutter, trying to sell the house.

what lips my lips have kisseddrama on a bench

Meanwhile… I really should elucidate on Breaking The Bench and Raising The Bar.  I admit the relevance to this post is a little shaky…  

On second thought, I’ve decided not to explain after all.  Titles are so hard to come up with.  The expectation that they always make sense seems a little unrealistic to me.  Also, I don’t think photos need to be relevant every time either.  However.  Notice that while the bench sags a great deal, it never quite breaks.

(Note: Frank and I do look happy here. Even though we’re freezing, and awkward—he a little Asperger’s, me a little neurotic. An occasional puzzle piece lost in translation. By and large, we really are happy together…though sometimes we negotiate happiness through astonishing discomfort. Looking back (we’ve been married 24 years), I’m reluctantly…no, profoundly grateful for the uncomfortable moments. They are the price we paid for the sweet ones.)

hello, dolly

(Also Note:  I’m still hoping to keep at least some of those public promises, and even a few private ones.  You will see the painting.  And I will publish a house tour, and  musings about home design, and real estate agents.  Maybe even another green smoothie recipe).

Home For Christmas

Home For Christmas, Dearly Beloveds, and A Nearly Dead Tangent at Year’s End (Ring Out, Wild Bells)

Christmas handstand

Well, Merry Christmas!  I know it’s late.  Actually, I know it’s pretty much over….But that’s ok.  Really.  In an obscure way, my belated holiday wishes sung in a deserted room might be stylishly edgy, like a minimalist independent movie  shot in a coat factory’s janitorial closet.  There might be meaning here, in my solitary, almost irrelevant words.  Truth.  Hope.  A narrow beacon of light. Possibly.  Probably not though.

And yet, I insist…Merry Christmas!  And I hope you (God Bless You, Every One) were all home for Christmas, in the best, warmest, happiest sense of the phrase.

Home for Christmas

I was home for Christmas.  It was nice.  I liked it.   With all the kids (mostly healthy), and Frank (consistently sweet), and even Mimsy (as long as she was leashed, darn it…at large, she is most untrustworthy)  I felt my heart swell at least one and a half sizes larger.   But if I were to recount my Christmas tale here, which wouldn’t be unreasonable because after all this is supposed to be a lifestyle blog, it would be long and might sometimes sound whiny.   And there would probably be tangents.  Like this one (you can skip the next paragraph, if you hate tangents.  But then, you’ve probably long since stopped reading my blog if you hate tangents, so…read on, dearly beloveds):

peering out of doorway

Tangent:  Since flu season coincides with the holiday season, we’ve been watching a lot of silly dramas.  No high brow janitorial closets for us (seven shades of blond zombified to the couch—or in my case, listening from the kitchen).   No.  In our flu-ish state, we’ve fallen prey to the almost clever devices of nearly mainstream screenwriters, and are, even now that most of us are feeling better, particularly intrigued by the theme of Almost (or Nearly) Dead.   Maurya came up with classifications for the varied elements of the Nearly Dead spectrum, and we are thinking of submitting them to some sort of committee.  There’s Mostly Dead as diagnosed by Miracle Max (Princess Bride)—rudimentary and uncomplicated.   I think I might have experienced this once or twice, even though I’m hardly fictitious and not as likely to be motivated by True Love or even Revenge so much as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and/or Daydreaming.   There’s also Rory Dead (of Dr. Who fame),  if you happen to be fictional, invented by a writer with a penchant for unbelievable plot twists, and your name is…well, Rory.   When you’re Rory Dead, you simply don’t stay dead for more than a couple of episodes, even though each of your deaths (there will be many) are at least dramatic, if not altogether tragic.  Exterminated by  a lizard woman with a ray gun?  Obliterated by a crack in the universe?  Melted to nothingness in the wrong time zone during the London Blitz after guarding the Pandorica for endless centuries?   No worries.   You’ll be back,  sans the typical decomposition most of us would expect after our demise—whether it were our first, or our third.   And last, there’s simple, generic TV Dead, a condition also most likely to be experienced by imaginary persons, though America’s Most Wanted would have us believe it is practiced by real mortals with sinister intentions.  TV Dead is really about artful deception.   It is Faked Death (Sherlock), a lie that sooner or later changes its story and insists it was alive all along, hidden in a secret room or across the street or possibly even in a Parisian cafe while tears were shed at the funeral and loved ones spoke sentimental dirges through the gray days afterward.  

dance at the funeral, babe

Before we leave this tangent, I do have relevant pictures:  Maurya and Nora either recuperating from, or actually in the midst of the flu (note Nora’s bowl), or jetlag (note Maurya’s beautiful toes).  And to make it germane to the whole Home for Christmas thing… they were home with me.  I love them.  I relished the sight of their pretty blond heads on the couch and  even on my pillow, probable muss notwithstanding.  And they are feeling better now.

flu seasonjet lag recoverycute toes

And so, no Christmas Tale.  Not really.  Nor will I be posting (this time) lovely pictures of my holiday decorating, telling you in lively and vivacious tones how I made it all look good.  Not because I’m great at exercising restraint (if I were, you can bet I’d be making one of those minimalist janitor closet films), but mostly because I never did completely finish decorating, although….I did  get a few pictures of some scattered nearly-done vignettes…

Nativity scene, foyerChristmas tableThe dog, leashed at Christmastime

In the end, what I loved best, and what I wish to mention here,  is that we were all Home for Christmas.  Together. We even gathered round our second hand baby grand (the one that lived…or did it die?  Mysteriously.  In a house fire sometime during the vague years before we found it on Craig’s list),  singing Christmas hymns til Ez hyperventilated and we all went to bed.  Except for me because I’d procrastinated wrapping.

snuggle on the couch